Falling in love again
14.02.2008 - 17.02.2008
A train ride to your destination is far more interesting than a twenty-five hour flight in darkness most of the way or an overnight ferry trip where the only interesting thing to see out of the porthole is imagined ghostly figures floating in the slightly illuminated wake.
So a train ride from Hook of Holland to Rotterdam Central is a refreshing, restful and enlightening change. But the best passing scenery was to come after changing to number nine platform and boarding the train to Amsterdam, making sure I get to the top deck for a better view. Now, not the best scenery by far I know, in this amazingly flat landscape but a refreshing change from the industrial and regimental houses between Heathrow and Harwich International.
The first sight of a windmill makes you wonder if it really works or is it placed there as a prop just to give visitors that oohh aahh factor. Whatever, it works, as the train glides respectively past and the land stretched into the far distance unhindered by neither mountain nor mound. And just as effective a sight is the deliberately placed water channels, the agricultural version of the canals I’m longing to see.
After and hour from Rotterdam, the train slides silently into Amsterdam Central Station giving a sense that this city is serious about public transport. Even though I’m entering the realm of lugging luggage through a station again, this time I’m so eager to feast my eyes on this city, I’ve forgotten past ordeals. But my feast for the eyes was marred by the extensive construction work stretching far from the station. But this is Amsterdam, the city I most loved when in Europe in the 60’s and no construction sight is going to spoil my welcome back.
It was too early to check into my hotel so a coffee would give me a chance to prop and refer to my map on how to navigate the streets. The little café Le Pot au Feu on Damrak not far from the station looked inviting and on entering, more than welcoming, so a second continental breakfast seemed appropriate for 5.95 euro.
The hotel was a bit of a walk but I was not in the mood to cram onto a tram but rather stroll and take in the evolving architecture as I headed deeper into the southern canal district. Luggage on wheels is great, but luggage on wheels on cobblestones is both bumpy and loud so when I finally arrived at my hotel it was probably as much relief to others on the street as it was for me.
The Hotel Dikker & Thijs Fenice at 444 Prinsengracht blends with the other buildings edging the canal, but this was my home for three days and that’s three days without dragging my bags around, and on finally resting them in my allotted room in the attic suite, it was my little heaven.